by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, June 7 (Xinhua) -- China's achievements in fighting hunger is significant in a global perspective, said an economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) here on Sunday.
"China is a big country, and a very important one," FAO Senior Statistician Piero Conforti told Xinhua in an interview. "Having such a big country achieving the most ambitious hunger target it is something that has a big impact. Progress in China is a good news not only for Chinese people but for the rest of the world."
China was recognized in an award ceremony on Sunday at the FAO headquarters in Rome for having reached the most stringent hunger target set by the World Food Summit (WFS) in 1996, namely halving the absolute number of hungry people by 2015.
The country had been awarded a certificate in June 2014 for reaching the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG-1), which was to reduce by half the proportion of undernourished people since 1990, before the 2015 deadline.
Thirteen other countries were also awarded by FAO on Sunday for having reached either the MDG-1 or the most ambitious WFS goal.
Yet, China's achievements were seen as having a relevant effect on a global scale, and not just because the country is so populous.
"China has a strong influence in its own region, as well as in other regions. Seeing it making progress with regards to undernourishment has a big impact throughout the world," Conforti said.
The number of hungry people in China decreased to 133.8 million in 2015 from about 289 million in early 1990s. These figures were recently provided by FAO in "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015" (SOFI) report.
"It is a 53.7 percent reduction, and it is a huge decrease," said Conforti, who served as one of the technical editors of the SOFI.
As FAO representatives and experts repeatedly stated, there is not one unique recipe against hunger that is considered good for the entire world.
Each country has its own history and peculiarities, and those achieving the best progress have done so in different ways, according to their own situation, means, and resources. However, some factors linking the experiences of the most successful countries can be detected.
"What we see from our global observatories is that there are some common elements leading to the achievement of hunger targets, " Conforti said.
"One common element is economic growth, for sure. Yet, growth per se is not enough. It has to be a kind of growth that provides opportunities for the whole population, and especially for the most vulnerable, which means poor and rural communities."
"In the case of China, having more growth opportunities in rural areas certainly had a big impact, and it is where it made a lot of progress," he added.
This was also the main message FAO stressed in its SOFI 2015 Report: economic growth alone is not enough to tackle hunger, unless it is seriously inclusive.
"One way to bring an inclusive growth to the world is by having some kind of social protection structure, and by implementing policies aimed at two different things," Conforti said.
Firstly, support has to be given to those who have not enough income to get food and other basic needs, and economic opportunities and employment must be provided to the poor.
Secondly, it is necessary to improve the productivity and effectiveness of the use of resources in smallholder farming. "This is extremely important, and has proved to be very effective," the economist stressed. "China has to be seen as a successful country from this point of view, essentially from the figures it showed," he added.